The Fog Comes In…

I looked outside this morning, and it’s foggy. I love it! Maybe because fog takes me back to my little valley home, and memories of ghostly stark and barren peach trees out back; those shrouded walks to school where I heard and saw nothing but my feet, one step in front of the other, and marveled how a world of white silence engulfed me, and I could be alone and happy, without anyone wondering what was wrong with me. Or, maybe I am transported to those times spent in foggy San Francisco, wandering about in a private adventure, soaking in as much art, music, and counter culture as I possibly could. Then again, perhaps I simply appreciate the stillness and romance fog brings to my soul. And my one fantasy. 

I’ve wondered over the years why I am not one given to fantasies. I understand everyone has them. Everyone, aside from me. I’ve only ever had one, and it’s been mine since I was in my early twenties. And I gather from those I’ve told about it, it’s not very exciting, nor worthy of much more than a casual “hmmm”.

It is night, very cold and foggy. I am riding a ferry, outside on the deck, cloaked in a floor length, black, hooded cape (I believe I look rather romantic and just a bit gothic); the ferry is approaching the end of its crossing, and I’m straining to see if he’s there. Yes, the object of all my longing and desire is supposed to be waiting for me at the other side of wherever I’ve been. And as we come within view of the dock, my heart leaps for joy, because I see him, leaning against a lamp post, wearing an overcoat and a hat, searching the distance for the ferry and its lone passenger…me. As the boat closes in on its destination, we see each other, and ….that’s the end of it. My mind stops at that juncture, and through the years, I’ve never been able to force it any further. I admit, what a lame ending!

Maybe when I experience a foggy day, the old fantasy is triggered, and I have hope it will be realized. Imagine finishing something left with so much possibility in real life. It could happen. Or not. 

In the meantime, if this is going to work, I need a black cloak, a passenger ferry, and better eyesight. Since I live in a valley without anything more than a couple rivers that have plenty of bridges to get from one side to the other, a temperate year round climate, and I already wear glasses; I know there are challenges ahead. 

But really, what good is a fantasy if there aren’t a few obstacles in the way? And I have the fog, so I am part way there, already. The rest should be a cinch!

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Posted in Aging, Baby Boomers, Fantasies, Fog, Life Journey, Memories, Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Saga Of A Brassiere

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When I graduated from elementary school and entered 7th grade junior high, the primary issue in my life was not changing classrooms and teachers for each subject; homework, which previously had been unknown to any of us; mixing with an entirely new set of kids who were drawn from several other elementary schools; nor even my Physical Education teacher also being my next door neighbor, whose telephone calls I had spent a good deal of my childhood listening in on, because we shared a party line.

My main concern, and object of abiding anxiety that did not present itself with an easy solution, no matter how many possible scenarios I ran through my mind; underwear. Specifically, every girl in that school wore a bra. Every one of them except this girl.

No matter how much I pleaded, reasoned with, cried, negotiated, threatened to run away, or bargained; my mother was resolute in her decision. She said no. She told me I did not need a “brassiere” (I still practically double over in horror at the speaking of that dread word), and when I “developed” and had “breasts” (Oh, how I hated that word, too) to put in it, she would buy me one.

Now, this was not totally unreasonable. I have mentioned before, I was the skinniest kid in school. In junior high, I was 5′ 6″ tall, and weighed 77 pounds. And none of those scant pounds appeared on my boney chest.

But, chest size wasn’t the point. At that age, it’s critically important to belong, and to be as similar to the other kids as possible. We had a locker room, and dressed for P.E. Every girl saw every other girl’s everything. And being different was a huge leap toward rejection, and quite possibly becoming the object of derision and bullying. Those were places I was determined not to go; and it would be many years before I learned to turn a deaf ear to peer pressure, and disallow anyone’s judgement of me to define my sense of value as an individual.

From the summer before school started, and each day after, I cut pictures out of our Sears Roebuck Catalogue and newspapers showing my mother what the other girls were wearing. It was called a training bra, and although I never figured out how some little piece of jersey fabric trained boobs, nor exactly what it trained them to do; I wanted that specific bra. In white. With sweet little pink embroidered rosettes between the flat cups. So simple.

Autumn came and went, with me still deficient in the undergarment department. I was unrelenting in pursuit of that unobtainable training bra, and would continue begging, nagging, and bargaining until I had one.

Christmas arrived, and my yearly behaviors went into overdrive. My mother had, for as long as I could remember, given me gifts for any occasion that, regardless of what I asked for, she liked. Her reasoning was the best gift given is that which you want for yourself. So wrong on so many levels.

I knew where she hid the wrapped packages, and took advantage of every opportunity I was left alone to carefully open each of my gifts, shudder thoroughly, wrap them back up, and replace them in her hiding spot. This advance shuddering and disappointment prepared me for the actual Christmas day, when I would then open my gifts in front of everyone, giggle, clap, and thank them for what I always never wanted.

That Christmas day rolled around, and I was comfortable in knowing what was in each package, and how I would react. Opening activities proceeded smoothly, and just as I believed we were done, my mother went to her bedroom, and came back with a package I had not seen before. She was grinning, and told me I might want to open it in my bedroom, alone.

I eagerly took it from her, and ran to my room. Ripping the wrapping off, my heart soared, because I was sure I knew my desperately longed for training bra was in there. Wrapping off, tissue paper gently spread apart; there it was!

I stared, tears welled up in my eyes, and I lifted my new bra out of the gift box. Silently I looked at the tag sewn inside: Size 28 AAA. I already had learned that was the smallest size made, at that time. And it was mine.

I was so grateful I had opened the present in my room, alone. Having not seen it before, I had not been prepared for what was before me…my mother had done it again. A cream colored, size 28 AAA, padded, pointy, 1950’s style, bullet brassiere! Those cups stood straight out, stiff and stitched in circles around their cone shape. And no pretty little embroidered rosette. All I would need to complete the picture was a cigarette and martini.

I put my bra on, and wore it that day. My mother was so proud at what I only can guess was her scrawny daughter finally having developed. All the extended family showed up for our traditional Christmas dinner, and I would have paid each one of them to stop staring at my transformed chest.

I survived that pivotal time in my life. Working extra hard gave me the means by which I could save my allowance, and finally buy the bra I really wanted. My mother never knew, because her permission was what I had needed, and from then on, it was easy to move forward with the real thing.

I always remembered what that bra represented, how hard I worked for it, and the challenges I had to overcome when I burned it in the 70’s. This I know, it wasn’t just an undergarment.

And though I doubt many women, today, have experienced much of a journey with their bras, I know what it meant to start with one whose predominant purpose was to attract males, to next participate in the bonfires that symbolized women’s freedom and emancipation from stereotypical roles, and then become a nursing mommy who was so grateful for those flaps in front. Finally, the reward, after so many years of confinement, to experience, literally, unfettered joy at the end of a day when that thing was whipped off, and one settled in for relaxation and sheer comfort. 

No, the bra never was just an undergarment. It was a type of metaphor for any woman’s experience in a society where she can allow herself to be defined by others, or more importantly, by only herself. It’s an ongoing story, and let’s hope it gets better and better with each telling.

Posted in 1950's, Aging, Baby Boomers, Childhood, Christmas, Clothing, Family, Life Journey, Memories, Nostalgia | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

In Her Honor

Every Hallowe’en I offer homage to a remarkable woman. In that tradition, I am reposting, in her honor, my heartfelt tribute.

There had been rumors, rustlings of something very bad afoot. Those with whom she had spent a lifetime, and shared in the most intimate of household experiences, from childbirth to preparing a departed loved one for burial, shoulder to shoulder, together through it all; those who once sought her out for help, comfort, and wisdom, averted their eyes when passing her on the street.

She knew it was bad, and as always before in times of extreme challenge, family drew close and embraced each other, fortifying themselves against the coming storm. Embraced, fortified, loved, and supported; thoroughly repented and prayed up, there was nothing more she could do but trust God would be with her in this time of need, and sustain her soul in spite of the dread fear clawing at her insides day and night.

Arrests in the village had begun, and on March 19, the accusations fell. Four days later, on March 23, a warrant was issued, and she was arrested the following day, accused of attacks on adults and two young girls. They took her from home and family, held her in jail, there being subjected to examinations, both oral and physical. On June 2, with a doctor and several women present, her whole body was examined, searching for evidence to confirm accusations leveled against her. The doctor and witnesses reported finding a “preternatural excrescence of flesh” which later in the day, by 4:00 o’clock, had changed, and appeared to be only dry skin.

On June 3, she was indicted. Thirty-nine neighbors, at great personal risk, signed a petition and presented it on her behalf, and during the ensuing trial, neighbors and relatives testified for her. In spite of the dire accusations, she represented herself in court, proclaiming repeatedly, innocence and unshakeable belief there would be intervention, pleading truth to come forth, so she would be delivered from such heinous defamation and the intended destruction of her very life.

Witnesses continued testifying for and against her on June 29 and 30; finally, the jury found her not guilty. There was such a hue and cry by the accusers and spectators when the verdict was announced, the court asked for the verdict to be reconsidered, and upon that request, she was found guilty and condemned to hang.

On July 12, her death warrant was signed; on July 19, she was hanged on the accusations of two children for being a witch.

And John Greenleaf Whittier wrote the epitaph for my ancestor’s gravestone:

Rebecca Nurse
Yarmouth, England 1621
Salem, Mass. 1692

O Christian Martyr who for truth could die
When all around thee owned the hideous lie!
The world redeemed from Superstition’s sway
Is breathing freer for thy sake today

Many words, plays, movies, and books have been written about Rebecca Nurse. In her honor, I would like to add, she was seventy-one years old, a devoted wife, mother of eight children, grandmother of eighteen children; dignified, respected, not unlike any one of us. She was my family, and not a witch.

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Posted in Aging, American History, Baby Boomers, Courage, Current Events, Death, Faith, Family, Genealogy, Life Journey, Rebecca Nurse, Salem Witch Trials, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Truth Be Told

Yesterday there was a story and video in the news about a sighting of a UFO close to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. I watched the video of the UFO, which was filmed by a couple who had been recording the sunset from their home. Unlike most, this video was fairly steady, and remarkably clear. I am no expert, and admit this UFO looks different from any photograph or video I have seen, before. However, it was definitely an object hovering in the sky, and made a most unusual exit when it left.

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The best description I can offer is it had the appearance of a large anvil, blue in color. And it simply hovered in the sky. When whatever appointed task was completed, it slowly rose to the clouds above, and seemed to be absorbed into them. No fanfare, no darting about, no noise or flashy lights; it was there, and then it wasn’t. Fascinating.

Do I believe in UFOs? I say a most definite maybe; a very cautious I think there is a strong possibility that perhaps UFOs, their crews and passengers are a part of life on this planet. Or not. But maybe. I am not an experiencer, and never wish to be; however, one cannot, with the wave of a cavalier hand, simply dismiss all the reports of those who, over the years, have observed and experienced other world phenomena. What I believe is that these experiencers believe with their whole beings they have encountered something more than any of us would have dreamed of in our wildest imaginings. And the stories are legion.

There is a lot of discussion, today, regarding the truth finally being revealed. Excited discussion of imminent disclosure. Who will be the one to spill the beans? Our current president, or the next elected one? Britain, Russia, the Pope? So much speculation over who will say what and when. The dialogue proceeds to how the world will react to news that all the years of science fiction stories and movies weren’t fiction at all.

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The religious community does not fare well in this scenario. It is anticipated to have a collective meltdown, somehow having its foundation destroyed if mankind is not alone in the whole scheme of God and His creation. I have heard this repeated again and again, but still cannot figure out why anyone would lose faith in their God over learning He had more in mind than just them. It seems to me, it simply makes Him bigger than we first thought, and certainly more capable of managing all the heavens He created, in the first place.

There also is a large base of UFO believers who are looking toward official acknowledgement of an agreement supposedly made between President Eisenhower and aliens that gave them permission to abduct citizens of Planet Earth in exchange for technology. If this be true, there are going to be a lot of very angry people that something so nefarious was agreed upon in the first place, and that no one ever put a stop to such egregious actions after citizens reported the heinous things being done to them. Someone is going to have to answer for violations of innocent citizenry, and someone needs to be held accountable.

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All in all, one cannot believe every single thing being said or written about UFOs or the off worlders who may or may not be visiting Earth. Nor can one offhandedly dismiss the experiences reported daily. I do know there is a plethora of information being withheld, or at the very least, zealously guarded. From us? Why? By whom? Why? Knowing may cause a paradigm shift of epic proportion, but that is the way of it in an expanding universe. Are we ready? I do not know. But, at the risk of sounding trite, the truth is out there, and it is time it is told.

Posted in Alien Abduction, Aliens, American History, Baby Boomers, Communication, Current Events, Disclosure, Faith, Life Journey, Presidents, UFOs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Extra Extra Read All About It

It’s been almost two years since I moved to this little town I now call home. Up until last month, I spent most of my time here caring for others, resolving their unfinished business, and endeavoring to build a new life for myself; because after all the work is done, tomorrows continue rolling in, and I wish to furnish them with the best me, and environmet that I can.

While all this has swirled around my months of activity, time and again, I have tried to figure out how the rest of  the world accomplishes its tasks with such ease, as opposed to the comedy of errors which accompany and complicate the simplest things I attempt. I do not recall a time when it was not like this, which is probably why I find so much irony in just about everything; irony being, to me, life’s knee slapping, hilarious means by which we get from one moment to the next.

girl-laughing-animation-clipart-1Need an example from today, alone? This morning began with a much anticipated newspaper delivery. I called my local newspaper yesterday, and arranged a year’s subscription. It was fun speaking with the customer service agent, and during our conversation, she told me she would find the best rate out there. All right! She searched and found a rate that was perfect for me, so I ordered home delivery for a year, and paid for it then and there. She said my first paper would be delivered today. I should have known this experience was too much fun, and way too easy,

I brought my paper in from the porch, today, right after sunrise. Preparing coffee, I absently stared at the tiny rolled up paper where it lay on the ottoman. Hmmm. That thing was really small. I realize my town is not huge, but it is a college town, and I have found a newspaper’s size tends to be proportionate to the size of its population. This was an odd little roll of printed paper, secured with a tiny rubber band.

Sitting with my cup of hot coffee, and feeling very content, I removed the rubber band, happily anticipating delving into local weekend news from my little Oregon town. **Surprise!!** Local news was going to have to wait, because what greeted me, and explained its tiny size, was a newspaper from the next town over, about nine miles as the crow flies, across the Willamette and Calapooia Rivers.

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Now, I am sure the Albany Democrat-herald is a fine paper, but I do to live in Albany, and I certainly did not order their newspaper. I concluded it was a simple carrier mistake; this must be a common error for new subscriptions. No worries. I believed a quick phone call to the Circulation Department would set matters straight in a blink, and all would be well by Sunday. Not even close!

The customer service agent I reached was charming and polite, albeit she could not hear very well.  After spelling my five letter last name four times, and repeating my address even more; she said, “You know, I think I will turn the volume up on my phone, so I can hear better.” All right! That seemed a very good idea for both of us.

Once the agent figured out who I was and understood I received the wrong paper, things really started rolling. Downhill. She began with several “Uh oh’s”, and progressed to “Oh no’s”. It seems the agent with whom I spoke yesterday got carried away in trying to find me a good deal. She found the cheapest promotional rate, but neglected to notice it was not in my town, nor my county.

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Today’s agent searched and searched, unfortunately only coming up with a rate for my newspaper that was triple what I paid for the wrong one. She apologized profusely, and asked what I would like to do. Being ever practical, it was an easy decision. Keep the wrong newspaper! I saw no reason to pay three times as much for a paper I had been reading online for almost two years. I already paid for this new one, it was only a nine mile difference, and if it really became a problem, I could drive over to Albany, and read the paper there.

Besides, my last fortune cookie advised me to expand my borders. All right then. Consider it done!

 

Posted in Baby Boomers, Communication, Life Journey, Newspaper, Oregon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Her Story, Her Way

I want you to help me write my obituary.

Sure. What would you like to say?

Okay, it has to begin with, I was born on a high and windy hill.

No. You weren’t born on a high and windy hill. What are you talking about?

I was born on a high and windy hill. And the doctor who delivered me drove a buggy pulled by the most beautiful black horse in five counties.

Whoa. First of all, you weren’t born on a high and windy hill. You were born on a flat Oklahoma prairie, where a dirt clod was the highest elevation for twenty miles in any direction. And your doctor drove a Model T Ford. Where are you coming up with this stuff?

This is my obituary, and I want it to read this way. It was a dark and stormy night on a high and windy hill.

No. The dark and stormy night already has been done, you were born at 8:45 in the morning, and I am not going to write things that are not true. Why don’t we just write what happened? The real stuff?

Do you mind? I believe this is my story, and I don’t need to clear it with you. When you write your obituary, make it as boring as you want. This one is mine, and I like the way it sounds. Are you going to help me, or not?

A few moments pass. Just thinking and evaluating kinds of moments.

All right. Let’s do it your way. I believe we have you being born on a high and windy hill on an Oklahoma prairie, where your doctor arrived in his Model T, pulled by a black stallion, in the middle of what may or may not have been a dark, stormy morning in the middle of the night.

A few moments pass. Just thinking and evaluating kinds of moments.

Well, maybe I need to think about this a little more. You get me some tea, and I will give the details another going over. I still like the high and windy hill, though.

She did not have time to rewrite her story. My mother passed away last Sunday night. And even though we never did finish that imaginative beginning of her life, I recall perfectly the joy it gave her as she created those scenes in her mind, those wondrous moments that were far more real to her than the actual event.

I have been thinking about ways my mom would have appreciated acknowledging her passing. One way was to go ahead and write her story just the way she told it to me. Another is to celebrate her life with fun and color and nonsense. Because she was fun, colorful and full of nonsense.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross said, “I have told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.” I have a package of balloons in my closet, that have been waiting there for just such an occasion. When my children and grandchildren are here, I do believe we will be releasing a great burst of color into the sky, shouting, We love you Mom, we love you Grandma!! And we will see you again.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aging, Baby Boomers, Death, Elderly, Family, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Life Journey, Memories, Nostalgia, Relationships, Uncategorized, Writers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

A Hardship That Never Was

Life has a way of wearing down what it considers my rough edges. It never seems to matter that I like me just the way I am (thank you, Mr Rogers), and would prefer to be left alone with all my quirky imperfections, intact. And how does this consistently unwelcome action occur? Easy. The things I dislike and fuss over the most, I regularly get opportunities to repeat until I finally yield, and say, “All right then; enough“. And make no mistake, all the times I do not really mean it do not count; the universe knows when I am sincere, and when I am sort of, and mostly not really on board.

My current experience in the land of “I do not want to do this, and I don’t know why you can’t just leave me be” has been interesting, in that I could not have been a more reluctant participant, and yet the end result is I actually have had an exceedingly wonderful time, and am feeling very grateful for it.

This said experience all came about when the owners of my apartment complex decided a major renovation to each unit was due. It is a large complex, so much planning went into accomplishing the remodel with as little disruption to the residents’ lives as possible. They have over eighty apartments in five buildings, and decided the most efficient way to get the job done was to work on four units at a time.

From the day I first heard of the plans, I kept my head down, and simply pretended it would not affect me for a long time, because I live in Apartment 42. No need to get all worked up when there were forty-one units ahead of me. Right? Silly me. How was I to know my apartment number was irrelevant, because it happens to be located in Building 1, and of course renovation had to begin in Building 1, because it is Building 1. So, my dreams of being left alone until sometime this summer went up in smoke as I found myself in the first wave of residents to be shuffled out of our apartments.

And what were they going to do with us when the builders were tearing down, and then building up? Why, move us to a hotel for a month, of course. We all had been told we would be given thirty days notice before we had to relocate, and we were provided a list of hotels from which to choose for our little vacations. Since I have dietary needs that prevent me from eating in restaurants, or enjoying the convenience of take-out food, I required a room with a kitchenette, so I could do my own cooking. I chose a hotel that provided a kitchen, and was located in the center of my usual shopping, errand-running territory. If I had to do this, it seemed the most convenient for my needs and lifestyle.

Even with the thirty day notice I had been given, when moving day came on February 4th, I was more than a little grumpy. There were no unpleasant words spoken; however, one look at my frowning face, and clenched jaw muscles gave everyone a big clue as to what my mood was. Fortunately, the owners also had made arrangements for movers to come in and pack up what we needed to take to the hotel, and transport it there for us, which lessened my grouchiness, considerably. By 9:00 AM, everything was packed and loaded onto the moving van, and I was on my way to a month’s stay in a hotel.

Feeling put upon, and indulging the extreme dislike I have for suitcases, hotels, and traveling in general, I was ready to sulk the entire month. But, arriving at my new home away from home with such a dismal attitude was so contrary to my normal, cheerful behavior, I began feeling ashamed as soon as I was in the elevator, riding up to my room. It was a no brainer that I needed to accept the month’s relocation, and frankly stop being so crabby about it.

By the time I found my room, and all my things were brought up to me, I began to realize, one more time, what I believed was going to be a huge imposition was really not a bad thing, at all. It turned out they did not just provide me a hotel room with a microwave, which is what I was expecting. Instead, I have a lovely suite with kitchen, living room with fireplace, nice large bathroom, and a bedroom that has a community-sized jacuzzi in it. The staff have been so sweet and kind, I feel as though I should be doing something for them, in some way, just to balance the universe a little. So far I have refrained from hugging the stuffing out of them all; I do not think they would understand. But, the manner in which I have been treated for the last two weeks has been a balm to a very tired soul, and I am grateful beyond words.

Barring any delays in construction, I will return to my apartment in a week and a half. I realize this experience has been a very gentle sanding of one more rough edge; and hopefully, next time I need to do something that does not appeal to me, I will remember this, and not put myself into such a state of anxiety and bad humor. After all, a month’s worth of reading in front of the fireplace, watching as many movies as I like, and having housekeepers come everyday to tidy up my little place is about as close to feeling like a princess as I have come in a very long time. And it is good to be pampered once in a while, especially when the lesson learned was born out of a hardship that never was.

Posted in Aging, Baby Boomers, Home, Learning, Life Journey, Moving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments